By Tony Tsoukalas / firstname.lastname@example.org
The Meridian Star
For the second-straight week Meridian's Richard McQuarley stepped up big, leading the Wildcats to a 29-22 win over Quitman Friday night.
With Meridian trailing Quitman 22-21 late in the fourth quarter, McQaurley made a jumping catch on a pass over the middle from quarterback J'Mar Smith from the Quitman 31 and muscled his way past Panther's defenders into the end zone to put the Wildcats back on top. Meridian would later get a two-point conversion, as Smith found C.J. Hampton to make the score 29-22 with 2:47 to play.
McQuarley carried the ball 23 times for 121 yards while also catching three passes for 72 yards and two touchdowns on the night.
“I just had to help carry the team,” he said. “We were tired, and it was real hot out here tonight. I just know I'm a senior, and this is the last chance I get. So I just felt like I needed to step up and do what I needed to do to help the team. I just saw a hole, and I took it — it's just what I needed to do.”
Both teams struggled to score early, punting the ball on each of their first two drives.
After going 1/7 to start the game, Smith would bounce back on Meridian's third possession, going 3/3 for 59 yards capped off by a 33-yard touchdown to Daniel Crowell. Smith finished the game 15/30 for 221 yards and four touchdowns. Crowell totaled three receptions for 52 yards and two touchdowns.
In the second quarter, Smith would find McQuarley for a 22-yard touchdown pass to increase the lead to 14-0.
However, Quitman quarterback DeQaun Stanley would answer right back with an 80-yard touchdown run down the left sideline to cut the lead in half two plays later.
Following a fumble on the Meridian 33-yard line, the Panthers would jump out on top, as Stanley found Jac'Quan Goddette on an 18-yard touchdown pass. After a fake field goal for a two-point conversion, they Panthers took the lead 15-14 with 1:08 to play in the half.
The back-and-forth battle continued though, as the Wildcats marched down the field, allowing Smith to find Crowell a second time to put Meridian up 21-15 at the half.
Stanley would break a 28-yard run to give the Panthers a 22-21 lead with 8:07 left in the third quarter. The junior quarterback was a force on the ground for the Panthers, carrying the ball 17 times for 140 yards and two touchdowns.
“I'm just glad it's over, and I'm glad we won,” Meridian head coach Larry Weems said. “We have so many things that we need to correct, I don't know how we will correct them all. We won, and we will go into next week and start preparing for that.”